Hello, I am Marina Mustafa, better known as Chef Marina. A self-made and self-trained chef. I profess that I cook more regularly personally and professionally than most. When asked what my speciality is - well, I can't give one answer to that question.
I owned, managed and cooked for our successful continental-food based cafe for fourteen years until a health crisis turned my career around and my cookbook writing career began. My pioneer cookbook was a collection of heirloom Malay-based family recipes. So, it is safe to say that I am most confident in Western cooking; have a passion for Malaysian cooking; love to explore deeply into cooking from any country that I visit, and I am passionate to learn about how food relates to different health conditions.
As I wrote more cookbooks, my span on food knowledge extended and my interest in anything related to food intensified. My specialities expanded to cooking demonstrations, food styling, cooking workshops, food writing, recipe development, producing my cooking videos and the list goes on. My work travels to Turkmenistan and Bangkok recently expanded my horizons even more.
I enjoy everything related to food. I hope that this joy reflects in the work that I do and the recipes that I share.
I have been doing cooking demonstrations regularly all over Peninsular Malaysia for almost a decade. One day, a client said that the reason why they requested for me was because I am well known for my interactive demonstrations. Interactive cooking is natural for me, but I did not realize until then, that involving the audience is an essential factor for a successful demonstration.
I have done demonstrations for a small group of ten, to large groups of up to a thousand. I have done demonstrations in various settings, ranging from hospitals, shopping malls, convention halls, homes, hotels, developer launches, and charity events. Whether it is a small or large group, cooking demonstrations are my favorite cooking activity!
I started a cooking school from home in 2011 to share the home-cooking experience, focusing on cooking as a family. However, what unexpectedly took off with such success was out ‘Kids Can Cook’ classes. It was well recieved by parents who wanted to expose their kids to this life skill as an activity during weekends and holidays. Even the press was excited, and Villa 16’s ‘Kids Can Cook’ classes recieved a significant amount of media coverage.
With Villa 16 not a workable location anymore, I am now re-inventing Villa 16 Home cooking to Cooking Classes with Marina Mustafa. A collaboration with The Culinary Studio, my cooking classes, will restart towards the end of 2018 with exciting classes. All with the promise of being personalised and fun!
Food styling is a part of my job which I did not see it as becoming something I would be asked to do frequently. Well, I am from Johor, and Johoreans are known to be particular about food presentation. So, making my food look good was how I was brought up. Professionally, I started food styling for my cookbooks.
Eventually, I was asked to do food styling for a lot of franchise companies and a major airline which got my career in food styling rolling. However, styling for your photos and styling for clients are a different ballgame. So, I am now focusing on food styling for my pleasure, i.e. my cookbooks, my Instagram and for my loved ones.
When you love food, writing about it comes naturally. When I am asked to contribute recipes for newspapers and magazines, I am always happy to share recipes that I have developed over the years. Injecting client’s products into my existing recipes challenges my creativity, and I really enjoy that.
Recipes are only interesting if there is a story behind it. So, when asked to write about culture, festivities or history in relation to food - that is my passion.